As December Payments Begin to Reach Households Tomorrow, Bennet Is Fighting to Pass Build Back Better This Month to Ensure Families Continue to Receive Their Monthly Payments Without Disruption In January
Washington, D.C. – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) joined U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) on the Senate floor calling for swift passage of a 1-year extension and permanent full refundability of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) through the Build Back Better budget. In his speech, Bennet highlighted stories from Coloradans about how this benefit is helping their families.
“This is April Pratt from El Paso County. And she lives there with her three daughters who are ages eight, two-and-a-half and one-and-a-half. When April was pregnant with her youngest daughter, her husband tragically passed away. Now she's the sole breadwinner for the family, and although she works full time at the local school, there's not much left after her mortgage, diapers, and groceries for three young kids,” said Bennet. “Before the Child Tax Credit, April said she, ‘felt like I was having a lot of anxiety every month about whether I was going to be able to afford my bills. It was eating up a lot of my attention.’ And thanks to the Child Tax Credit, April can afford the $1,200 a month for childcare for her two youngest daughters so she can work.”
Starting tomorrow, Colorado families will receive their December advance monthly CTC payment. Thanks to this tax credit expansion under the American Rescue Plan Act, based on Bennet’s American Family Act, the CTC has already helped millions of children nationwide, including 27 million children who were previously excluded from the tax credit. Bennet and the senators are fighting to ensure those kids will permanently be eligible for the CTC and for a 1-year extension of the credit through Build Back Better. Bennet is urging his colleagues to pass it as soon as possible so that families can continue to receive their monthly payments without disruption in January.
Bennet continued: “Now we've got a tax cut for working people…We're saying we don't have to accept childhood poverty as a permanent feature of our economy or our democracy. We don't have to accept an economy where it only grows for the wealthiest Americans. We don't have to accept a Congress that is only paying attention to special interests and to the wealthiest Americans. We can build an economy that includes everybody.”
Bennet’s full speech is available HERE. His remarks as delivered are available below.
It is a wonderful moment to be here with my colleagues to acknowledge that in March, we passed the biggest reduction in poverty in generations in our country. And that was through the expansion of the Child Tax Credit, which increased the credit, made it payable on a monthly basis, and for the first time in American history, made it fully refundable so the millions of children in this country that were too poor to get the benefit of the credit, because their families were too poor, would get the benefit of that credit.
And we needed to do it, Madam President. The United States, before we passed this, was 38 out of 41 industrialized countries in the world when it came to childhood poverty. The poorest generation in this country are our children and I think, what we said was, there is no reason for us to accept those outcomes or those numbers as a permanent feature of our economy or our democracy. And in the end, this isn't about numbers.
This is about children all over our country and the future of the United States of America. Childhood poverty, Madam President costs this country a trillion dollars a year. And one of the things we decided was maybe instead of paying for the effects of childhood poverty, we could actually begin to try to reduce the amount of childhood poverty that exists in our country the way other countries around the world have already done it.
Nationally, the Child Tax Credit, as I say, is cutting childhood poverty in half. It's reducing hunger among families by a quarter. Let that linger for a second, Madam President. When's the last time we were able to come to the floor of the Senate and say we've cut hunger in this country by a quarter. It's been generations since anybody's been able to say that on this floor. In Colorado, Madam President, a million kids and their families are benefiting from this credit.
That's 90% of the kids in my state, it's 90% of the kids across the country. Parents in Colorado are getting an average of $240 a month to pay for groceries to help with the rent -- really importantly, to pay for a little extra child care so people can stay at work. And I know that because of what parents have told me they're spending the money on.
When we first passed this credit back in June, I think it was that it first one into effect, July and August, people were getting ready to go back to school, and I had mom after mom after mom across the state tell me how important it was that they were able to buy school clothes for their kids without bankrupting their family for the first time. And you know, all of this is the reflection of an economy that for 50 years has worked extremely well for the top 10% of Americans and hasn't really worked for anybody else.
And where you know, the families that come to see me in my town halls say, "Michael, we are working really hard. But no matter what we do, we can't afford some combination of housing, of health care, higher education, early childhood education, if we can even find early childhood education or daycare. We can't say we feel like our families are going to live a more diminished life than we did and that our kids will as well."
And so I brought a few photos today to the floor to share some stories of Coloradans with all of you and my colleagues. This is April Pratt from El Paso County. And she lives there with her three daughters who are ages eight, two-and-a-half and one-and-a-half. When April was pregnant with her youngest daughter, her husband tragically passed away. Now she's the sole breadwinner for the family, and although she works full time at the local school, there's not much left after her mortgage, diapers, and groceries for three young kids.
Let me just say that again: works full time. Works full time. Before the Child Tax Credit, April said she, "felt like I was having a lot of anxiety every month about whether I was going to be able to afford my bills. It was eating up a lot of my attention." And thanks to the Child Tax Credit, April can afford the $1,200 a month for child care for her two youngest daughters so she can work. So she can work. She said “if I wasn't able to afford childcare, I'd have to quit my job.” Without the Child Tax Credit April said that she'd be, "forced to use my credit card to fill in the gaps and that debt just accumulates and accumulates and that becomes crippling, and my family wouldn't be able to get ahead." She said it was, "nice that our government is finally doing something to help working families and middle class families."
Finally, Madam President, after we have cut taxes for the wealthiest people in this country by more than $5 trillion since 2001, we finally have a tax cut for working families. We should be making it permanent, Madam President.
This is Amberly Atencio. Also from Colorado. She's here with her three girls that are ages 9, 12, and 14. When I got to this place, Mr. President, my daughters were nine, seven and four so I have some appreciation for what she's got on her hands. They've lived their entire life in Monte Vista, a small town in southwest Colorado in the San Luis Valley. And for the past three years, Amberly has been working full time and studying. And last week, she graduated with her second associate's degree. She works for a local health insurance company and before the Child Tax Credit, her paycheck was the only source of income for her family.
She said knowing that monthly support comes on the same day each month helps her pay the rent, and buy food. She said, "I'm a single parent. This is like heaven to me. Knowing that I have that extra income to provide for my children, it has helped so much." Her daughters love sports -- soccer, basketball, volleyball, and track. But between the shorts, knee pads, cleats, shin guards and fees, it all adds up. And with the Child Tax Credit, she's bought that equipment for her daughters so they can play sports with their friends, which means the world to them. I had a mom who told me that she had bought a bike for her son and he was able to stay at school late to engage in after school activities that he otherwise wouldn't have been able to do without that bike.
And then finally, here's Ayesha Bogart, from Colorado Springs. Here's another mom from the Springs with her three kids, aged 12, 13 and 23. And Ayesha served for 16 years as a medic in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserves. While she was on active duty, she was injured during a training accident when her Humvee rolled over, and it left her with a traumatic brain injury. Now she's a single mom supporting three kids all by herself. And before the Child Tax Credit, she couldn't afford to buy new shoes for her kids.
She said there were days when they didn't have shampoo at home. And her kids would get teased at school. And thanks to the Child Tax Credit, she bought her kids a new pair of shoes, she bought them school supplies so they feel like they're on a level playing field with the other children in their school. She said the Child Tax Credit has given her, "breathing room where there wasn't any before."
I've heard stories like that all across the state of Colorado. This is an anecdotal reflection — it's not an anecdotal reflection of people not working hard. All these people are working hard. It's hard work just to raise a child, much less do the kinds of jobs these folks are doing in an economy that's worked really well for the top 10%, as I said, but hasn't really worked for anybody else.
And what has Washington's response been? Time and time and time again, to come here and cut taxes for the richest people in America and ignore the needs of working people. That's what we have done since 2001. $8 trillion of tax cuts, almost all of which have gone to the wealthiest people in this country.
And now we've got a tax cut for working people in an economy that has not lifted them up the way it's lifted the people at the very top. We're saying we don't have to accept childhood poverty as a permanent feature of our economy or our democracy. We don't have to accept an economy where it only grows for the wealthiest Americans. We don't have to accept a Congress that is only paying attention to special interests and to the wealthiest Americans. We can build an economy that includes everybody.
That when it grows, everybody benefits from it. Because the whole society benefits from that as well. Childhood poverty costs this country a trillion dollars a year, Mr. President. We can't afford not to do this, which is why so many other countries in the world have done this. We can create opportunity for every American family and give every child the chance to contribute to this economy and to our society.
And I believe that it is fundamentally important to strengthening our democracy, making sure that we've got something we're proud of to turn over to the next generation of Americans. And that's why it's critical for us to extend this Child Tax Credit, to not allow it to lapse at the end of the year, and in my mind, make it permanent. Mr. President, I'd argue we cannot afford not to. And with that, I'll yield the floor.